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Decatur working to develop age-friendly community action plan

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Decatur working to develop age-friendly community action plan

Decatur City Hall. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Decatur, GA — The city of Decatur is working to create a community action plan related to being an age-friendly city.

The draft of the plan includes an overview of the city’s existing age-friendly features, as well as the nine domains of the initiative. Each domain outlines goals and action items for the city to complete in a five-year period. Decatur was named an age-friendly city in August 2020.

“AARP created this program in 2006 through their livable communities initiative and that addresses the need of creating a place that all ages, especially the older population, can age in place and be active in their community,” Planning Intern Eve Murphy said during the July 17 city commission meeting. “The goal of the age-friendly community action plan is to inform and build upon the ideas and goals from the community of Decatur to help them increase the age-friendly initiatives in Decatur.”

Some of the existing initiatives in the city include the MLK service project and season of giving, the circulator shuttle, as well as programming at the recreation centers.

The action plan was informed by challenges raised by residents during the Lifelong Community Advisory Board meetings. Most of the domains in the plan come from the framework provided by AARP, but the city added one to the draft as well.

Here are the nine domains:

– Outdoor spaces and buildings focuses on the availability of safe and accessible outdoor spaces and buildings.

“The vision for the city of Decatur is that older adults live in an environment that includes safe and accessible outdoor spaces, buildings and walking paths,” Murphy said. “One of the goals that is listed in the plan itself is to increase ways that older adults can stay active while enhancing the spaces to be inclusive, accessible and safe.”

The action item for this domain is to provide seasonally appropriate accommodations for older adults to comfortably attend events, such as distributing lawn chairs or umbrellas.

– The second domain is transportation.

“The vision for the city of Decatur is that older adults have the availability of easily accessible, safe, reliant and affordable modes of transportation and the ability to chose what alternative way they want to get around in,” Murphy said.

The goal for this domain is to increase the accessibility and availability of a variety of public transportation options in the city. This would include maintaining and expanding the circulator shuttle program. 

– Domain three looks at housing and the ability to age in place.

“The vision for the city of Decatur for this action plan is that older adults have the ability to age in place and utilize the financial knowledge needed,” Murphy said. “One of the five-year goals in the plan is to provide a way to increase the awareness and knowledge of how to age in place.”

The action item for this goal includes producing a comprehensive guide covering existing tax exemptions, forms of assistance and other strategies to allow for the increase in knowledge to age in place. 

– Another domain is social participation. The goal is to increase information about the types of activities and opportunities throughout the city that allow older adults to interact with each other and other residents. This would look at establishing an age-friendly feature or filter on the community event portal on the city websites. 

– The fifth domain is respect and social inclusion. The goal of this domain is to decrease social isolation among older adults throughout the city. The plan includes an action item of installing chat benches throughout the city. 

– Domain six looks at civic participation and employment. The goal is to increase and recruit volunteerism among older adults to participate in community events, celebrations, and city governance. Under this domain, the city would provide information through its communication channels.

The information would be distributed as hard copies. The plan would also allow for volunteer opportunities to be posted in multiple places, sharing information about board openings and providing feedback through feedback boxes that are in senior communities.

“The vision for the city of Decatur is that older adults have the opportunity to get involved in the community through employment, social engagement and volunteering opportunities,” Murphy said.

– Domain seven focuses on communication and information.

“That domain is described as the availability of established communication channels and easy accessibility to obtain that information for older adults,” Murphy said.

The goal is that older adults will be connected to age-friendly resources and all relevant information via multiple forms of media to ensure access for all. One of the action items is to encourage the Decatur Focus to establish a monthly column that’s focused on opportunities and news related to older adults. 

– The eighth domain is community and health. The goal of the plan is to increase knowledge and access to health services available at the city and county levels. The action item in the plan includes participating in having a booth set up at a festival in partnership with the fire department and local nonprofits to focus on preventative health screening and emergency preparedness.

– The city added the ninth domain to the plan, which looks at business services.

“This domain is described as the availability of a variety of businesses and development throughout the community that improve the quality of life for all older adults,” Murphy said. “The vision for the city of Decatur is that the city will have businesses and developments that are age-friendly and are actively thinking about the older population when talking about their business.”

One of the goals is to increase the involvement of the business community in ensuring age-friendly workplaces and services. The action item is to establish a referral service for businesses to hire older adults. 

Planning and Economic Development Director Angela Threadgill said the plan is currently in the design production phase. The plan will be finalized and presented to the Lifelong Community Advisory Board next month. City staff will bring the action plan to the city commission for its consideration in August.

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